Link-O-Rama: Billy Wagner is the next Brian Stokes

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* Billy Wagner, on his chances of coming back
from Tommy John elbow surgery to have a prominent role in the Mets’
bullpen this season: “I can’t see it. I think that would be foolhardy
to even insinuate something like that. I think what I would be is a
Brian Stokes-type player. I might pitch once a week.” That must make
Brian Stokes feel good.

* Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs are expected to pursue B.J. Ryan once he clears waivers to make his release from the Blue Jays official.

* After rumors started swirling
that the Nationals might be interested in hiring former Braves and
Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone, team president Stan Kasten said:
“There is not a scintilla of truth to this story.”

* Eric Milton’s comeback is over after just five starts, as the 33-year-old southpaw underwent back surgery yesterday and is expected to be sidelined for at least three months.

* Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts transcribed a 1982 interview
between Larry King and Red Barber in which Barber tells the story of
how Vin Scully was hired by the Dodgers. And if that description isn’t
enough for you to click the link, then we probably can’t be friends.

Pujols hits 701st career home run, connects for Cardinals

albert pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit his 701st home run, connecting Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pujols launched a slider from former teammate Johan Oviedo over the Big Mac Land sign in left field at Busch Stadium. The solo drive in the fourth inning made it 1-all.

Pujols faced Oviedo for the first time and made the 24-year-old righty the 456th different pitcher he’s homered against.

The St. Louis star hadn’t homered in a week since hitting No. 699 and 700 at Dodger Stadium last Friday. Pujols had gone 10 at-bats without a home run after two starts and one pinch-hit appearance.

The Busch Stadium crowd gave the 42-year-old Pujols a long standing ovation before he came out of the Cardinals dugout to tip his cap for a curtain call.

Pujols hit his 22nd home run this season for the NL Central champion Cardinals.

Pujols is fourth on the career home run list behind Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).